Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, December 14, 2014, 10:15 a.m.
Football is in the pre-bowl doldrums (bowldrums?), or, if the NFL is your bailiwick, the pre-playoff blahs. NASCAR has been reduced for now to reports of tire testing from the various frontiers. Baseball players are moving and counting their money. Basketball teams are forming their images with the hodgepodge of games between teams of vastly different skill levels and geography. I can’t get too excited about hockey until the playoffs start.
The quiet won’t linger. Navy won’t have as much time to prepare for its modest bowl appearance as it did to formulate the strategy to defeat Army for the thirteenth year in a row. A common remark in the next few weeks will be that there are entirely too many bowl games, uttered, tweeted, posted, rumored and overheard by people watching more of them than they will ever admit.
I suppose I could use this space to identify what piqued my attention in 2014. Well, I’ve still got more than two weeks. I may do it, and I may not. Right now, I need to think it through. I may do it, and I may not. Oh, yeah. I wrote that already.
As always, the difference is vast between what happened and what I’ll remember. For instance, a few weeks ago, I mysteriously hurt my knee. If surgery had been performed, I’m sure I’d remember it. However, since my medical professionals have agreed just to let it sit, arthritic and cranky, for now, my knee feels just about the way it has for three or four years, which is weakened, and unreliable, but serviceable as long as I pay attention to what I am doing. Nothing is memorable about this.
Looking back on my writing, I wrote about half a western (Cowboys Come Home) that I abandoned simply because I’m not a juggler and too many balls were in the air. For most of the year, I worked on a crime novel called Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Then I sat the first draft aside and went back to ready another, Crazy of Natural Causes, for eventual publication. That’s done. It’s either good or better.
Twenty Fourteen was the year I started writing short stories, though some of them go back a little farther. The anniversary of my fiction blog, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, just passed. About fifteen months ago, I started sketching, and that led, quite naturally, to accompanying my short stories with sketches. I think I’ve gotten better. This was the first:
This is the most recent:
Now I’ve been collecting all those short stories into one volume, which is titled Longer Songs. The reason for the title is that many of the short stories were based on, or at least originated in, songs I had written. I wrote a song based on observing two people conversing in a bar. The song (“Stuck in a Rut”) didn’t include them going on a desperate, disastrous road trip to L.A. Such flights of fancy took off from the songs and carried me with them.
This year I learned that NASCAR is bold enough to try almost anything, that football points are often easier to come by than basketball points, that it’s possible for the Kansas City Royals to play in the World Series, and that the winner of one World Series can finish last the following year. I knew the last, but the Boston Red Sox reminded me.
Year’s end leaves me believing in fewer things, continuing a trend that seems of recent vintage but is probably just what happens with age. Recent years have seen my faith in John Edwards, Joe Paterno, and Bill Cosby obliterated, and in cops and clergy, tested. I must remember the age-old words of the Jackson Five: “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch of girls. I don’t care what they say. Don’t you give up on love.”
Love. Hah. At this point of my life, what “they say” about “love” applies to “life.” All’s fair in life and war, not to mention redundancy. Life. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. The last time I fell in love was several years back. I got a song out of it.
This year I’ve worked hard. Next year comes success. When I was a boy, I read about men who went out to make their fortunes. I didn’t expect it to take so long. I write. It’s what I know how to do. If I do enough of it, I will continue to improve, and, in theory, someone out there is bound to notice. Next I’d like to be an overnight sensation.
In the meantime, do me the continued favor of reading in general and reading me in particular. If you’ve a desire to help measurably, read these: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1